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Whenever I go the grocery store, I often see a vast array of products that all claim to help me lose weight. I simply have to buy the product, try it, and watch the pounds slip away! So, I stare at the items on the counter and think, “Will this really work?” Is it worth giving up a good meal for a powered drink that will help me lose those pounds that just appeared out of nowhere? I wonder about what type of testing has been done to verify that the product will do what it claims.

 

What does this have to do with the IT Infrastructure Library® (ITIL®)? Plenty. Read on.

 

Many IT organizations strive to follow best practices for IT service management. When you purchase software, how can you be assured that it provides IT processes out of the box and is ready for use without customization? How do you know that the product will do what it says it does — drive IT process improvements and efficiencies in accordance with ITIL best practices?

 

A certification program sponsored by the UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC) provides the designation of “ITIL® Process Compliant,” which offers that assurance. To receive this designation, the software must successfully complete rigorous testing for achieving ITIL fundamental processes in the areas it is designed to serve, such as incident and problem management, change management, request fulfillment, and event management. Here are some of the benefits of certification:

 

1.     Safeguarding your investment

2.     Achieving a faster ramp-up time, which achieves faster results

3.     Accelerating your implementation

4.     Speeding the path to accreditation

5.     Achieving independent verification

 

Learn more in this BMC article: Five Benefits of Evaluating Service Management Software for ITIL Compliance.

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It’s that time of year, quarter, or month when you have to justify your existence — or least your value — to the business. You can scramble around gathering data to support some of your organization’s key achievements after the fact and hope that you’ve found what you need to answer questions from your most challenging business users. But that’s like trying to explain to your spouse or significant other why you just purchased a new car without previously mentioning that you were thinking of buying one. It takes a lot of energy and creative thinking.

There’s got to be an easier way to justify value, especially in IT. The process starts with not just collecting metrics, but also making sure you are collecting the right ones. You must understand which metrics communicate the big-picture of the services you’ve delivered. A good example of an effective metric might be “size of the change backlog.” Such metrics provide KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Here’s what you should look for in an effective metric:

  • Is tied to a business goal
  • Is important to someone (there is a customer who wants it)
  • Measures a single condition or event
  • Is easy to measure and report
  • Has specific results that support decision making

 

It’s also important to understand the steps required for building a metric strategy. Here’s a list from a recent BMC article, How to Chose Metrics that Demonstrate IT Value, which provides some excellent recommendations to help shape your metrics strategy.

  • Select a business goal.
  • Determine how IT supports that goal or in which specific focus areas (processes or activities) IT needs to improve. Each of these focus areas could be
    analyzed in parallel.
  • Determine the maturity of the process or focus area.
  • If maturity is too low, determine the scope of metrics needed to measure progress.
  • Review current metrics to make sure they meet the characteristics in the bulleted list above.
  • Select new metrics, if needed.
  • Review metrics for effectiveness, completeness, and aging.

 

By choosing metrics wisely, your business customers will be able to understand and appreciate not only what you’ve done for them lately but also what you plan to deliver in the future.

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We wanted to find out how IT organizations were adopting SaaS, how far along they were in this journey, and what benefits they were receiving. So, BMC and Salesforce.com recently sponsored a survey and came up with some interesting results about SaaS in general and what this means for the help desk. Survey respondents came from a cross section of industries and a range of company sizes, and each held different roles in IT.

 

Here are some of the survey highlights: About 23 percent of those surveyed used SaaS for their IT help desk, and nearly 28 percent used SaaS for their IT infrastructure. Their reasons for moving to SaaS from traditional software include greater efficiency, scalability, and reliability/availability; minimal startup costs; a low-cost monthly subscription; and automatic updates. When the technology, best practices, and data reside in the cloud, the IT help desk can upgrade its capabilities more quickly, including adding capabilities like mobility, Chatter, and other new ways to exploit the cloud. (I used Chatter for the first time recently and was really pleased with how easy it was to collaborate, but that’s enough about me).

 

SaaS applications for the help desk provide can provide businesses with many benefits. With SaaS, your help desk can be better and faster. SaaS can create a better experience for the help desk team and customers. The SaaS interfaces are easy use and access. Businesses can leverage pay-as-you go models, so they are basically renting the software application by paying a monthly fee per user. In addition, SaaS applications let you deploy and enforce standardized processes more easily and they can leverage preconfigured, ITIL-based processes. There are many other advantages as well for those companies that are in a position to make that transition to SaaS.

 

According to Chris Williams from BMC Software, “SaaS eventually could establish new benchmarks for IT help desk responsiveness and performance among business users, making the move to the cloud a competitive necessity for businesses in some industries.” Read this white paper written by Chris for more information: The SMB IT Decision Maker’s Guide: How SaaS Can Benefit the IT Help Desk.

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Imagine going to a really nice restaurant, expecting a wonderful meal and this is all you see when you get your menu: Meat. Fish. Poultry. Vegetables. Beverages. Salad. Desserts. Appetizers. You don’t get a list of specific choices in each category and you don’t even know the prices!  You don’t know whether the meat is a hamburger or a steak and you can’t tell if it is broiled or barbequed. That’s why you’re wondering how you can possibly make an intelligent decision about what to order without having to ask the waiter to verbally go through every single offering on the menu. Is this any way to run a business?

 

And what does ordering dinner have to do with IT? Or is this just the babble of someone (me) who is hungry and thinking about what kind of pizza I’m going to order tonight? No, it’s not the ranting of a hungry woman. It’s really about the service catalog. Your service catalog is your menu of business services from IT and the technical services that support them. And if your business users don’t know what specific services you offer, or what it costs to provide those services, you’re going to spend a lot of time and energy needlessly explaining this to them. If you don’t make it easy for your business users to find this information on their own, the services available to them will be underutilized. Finally, if your service catalog doesn’t reflect the value that you offer the business, then your business users may be more likely to look for other ways to meet their requirements.

 

IT must use the service catalog to proactively identify ways to support products and capabilities and deliver the applications and systems required for the business to seize opportunities. A mature service catalog can help IT prioritize spending based on the most critical services.

 

Many services catalogs lack the level of detail required to meet the goals of IT and the business. That’s why you should consider transforming your service catalog into one that delivers the desired results. This transformation requires obtaining clear answers from service owners about the value they get from their services. It also requires the software, such as the proper tools to identify, relate, track, and monitor the IT infrastructure.  Check out this article by experts from BMC’s Consulting Services group, which discusses best practices on how to get started with service catalog transformation: Transform the Service Catalog to Transform the Business.

Linda Donovan

Cloud Humor

Posted by Linda Donovan Mar 10, 2011
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You just can’t run away from the all the media coverage about the cloud. All of this information can be a bit mind-boggling. That got me and Elaine Korn, my coworker at BMC, thinking about what it’s like to actually be a cloud. So, we wrote this short article, Confessions of Angry Cloud, a few months ago:

 

I am so stressed. All this publicity about the cloud is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on me to deliver. You see, I’m a cloud. Just call me Clarence. And I can’t go anywhere without someone trying to figure out exactly what I do for a living. They are always asking me questions, like “am I private, public, or hybrid?”  And then, I keep hearing those corny cloud jokes – “Why did you ruin a sunny day in your IT environment?” Or, “Being a cloud sounds like such a downer. Can’t you just brighten up the infrastructure?” They automatically assume that just because of my name alone I’m going to be grumpy and difficult to work with. Please…give me a break. Okay?

 

A good cloud delivers services. That’s my job 24x7. I pride myself for playing an important part in letting people have reliable, trusted, and IT secure services. So don’t ask me all about the infrastructure, hypervisiors, virtualization, and all those complicated terms that are the buzzwords used by IT people. Just try to understand my job.  Then maybe you can appreciate me and see how what I can do for you.

 

What? You think you don’t need me? Think again. I can help you reduce costs, improve efficiency, and be more responsive to the business…just like I am. In fact, with my help you can you pick the services you need when you need them. Thanks to my efforts (okay…and some work your part and technology) you can save lots of money. I hope you appreciate that! And did I mention that I am super scalable and robust? And humble?

 

What you should really be concerned about is how to manage me. Fortunately, I can be managed, with the right resources.  For starters, you need a self-service portal so users can manage the services they request from me. Yeah, as if I couldn’t manage the services by myself. Whatever. And then you need flexible provisioning capabilities for the services you send my way. This will allow your customers to have flexibility they need, within constraints defined by you—yes, you are still in charge. The right solutions for cloud planning, operations, and governance will help you stay on track.

 

Admittedly, I can’t do it all on my own, so an effective cloud lifecycle management solution will easily integrate into your existing management technologies. That will allow you to leverage your policies, people, processes, and tools across your entire infrastructure. But it’s so wrong to say that effectively managing me requires excessive resources – it’s easier than you think.

 

So now that you can appreciate all that a cloud goes through to deliver services, you might want to learn more. Let’s get serious. Be sure to check out our current edition of VIEWPOINT, Focus on:  Cloud Computing.This publication  includes contributions from industry experts, BMC Software customers and partners, and BMC thought leaders, providing advice and practical guidance to help you successfully manage the cloud. We’ve included a broad array of perspectives, from service providers to platform providers—in both hardware and software. You can order a complimentary hard copy at: http://go.bmc.com/forms/ESM_Thtldrshp_VpointBook_Zone1_BMCcom_EN_Dec2010.

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It’s a given that cloud computing is dramatically changing the way organizations deliver IT services. So, how does this impact capacity management? How do you achieve that delicate balance between utilizing capacity efficiently and delivering cost-effective, higher-quality services? You need to take a holistic approach and become more business aware. Here are six steps to consider that will help you maintain your agreed-upon performance levels without buying more equipment than you need:

Step 1: Move from a Narrow and Reactive Perspective to a Broad and Continuous View

Broaden your capacity planning focus from mission-critical systems to include the entire IT infrastructure. This requires knowing how much total capacity is out there and how it is being used.

Step 2: Focus on a Business Service Orientation

It’s important to manage capacity from a business service perspective, which requires understanding the relationship of capacity to business requirements. Your approach should encompass all the devices and the application layers that make up each service. You need to expand the reach of analytics and reporting from technology metrics to business metrics. Reporting in the cloud environment should link IT resources to measurable business data, such as the costs and KPIs of the business.

Step 3: Move from Manual to Automatic

Business-service-oriented capacity management requires an automated approach that encompasses data gathering, translation, and reporting in business terms.

Step 4: Transition from Siloed Processes to Integrated, Shared Processes

Focus on integrated processes that are extended to and shared by other IT groups, such as application developers and database administrators. This enables you to leverage the expertise of capacity planners and capacity planning as a shared responsibility.

Step 5: Move from Trial and Error to Predictive Analytics

Most IT organizations are moving toward the cloud environment incrementally by migrating physical systems to virtual machines and by determining the most effective placement of virtual workloads in the cloud. Analysis and “what-if” modeling tools let you preview various virtual/physical configurations and combinations before deploying them in production. Predictive analysis of workload trends helps to ensure that needed capacity will be available in the future.

Step 6: Transition from Separation to Integration

Effective management of the cloud environment requires integrating capacity management tools and processes with other Business Service Management (BSM) tools and processes. BSM is a comprehensive approach and unified platform that helps IT organizations cut cost, reduce risk, and drive business profit. Integration provides broad visibility into the physical and virtual resources in your data center as well as insight into how they are being used.

 

For more information on this topic, be sure to read this article by Fabio Violante, senior director of product development and member of the CTO Office at BMC Software, Achieving Business-Aware Capacity Management in the Cloud: Six Steps to Success.

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Just as soon as I finally get around to buying what was once the latest, hottest, fastest technology device – smart phone, iPad, laptop, you name it – the product gets replaced by something even faster, smarter, more intuitive, and cheaper. And I thought I was such a good shopper, too! That’s why I’m trying to think ahead about my upcoming purchases. And if you’re in IT, what could be better than taking a more long-term look toward where cloud computing is headed? And by long-term, I’m not just talking about the next quarter. I’m thinking about what’s it’s gonna’ be like by 2015.

 

So consider these questions as you do your cloud planning for the future. What IT services that you manage now will eventually be moved to the cloud? How much time will you save in provisioning servers in the cloud compared to the time you are currently spending? What platforms will people use to access your services? (Hint: Think mobile. Think small. Think flat.) What percentage of your IT dollars will go toward delivering new application services and new forms of data to your end users? How is this race to cloud going to impact the bottom line and help you deliver more value to the business? And what will you do with all of the time you used to spend managing hardware?

 

Mark Settle, BMC Software's CIO, gave us his perspective on these topics and more in this refreshing look at cloud computing. Check it out now. Read Looking Ahead: A Cloud Report from 2015.

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